The third time facing division champion Elite Power proved to be the charm for Gunite in Saturday’s $485,000 Forego (G1) at Saratoga.
Beaten in the last jump by Elite Power in the six-furlong Alfred G. Vanderbilt H. (G1) earlier in the meet, Gunite enjoyed a more favorable trip in this rematch. After setting a moderate pace of :23.16 and :46.20 in the seven-furlong test, Gunite repelled an inside bid from the reigning champion sprinter to register a 1 3/4-length victory under Tyler Gaffalione. The final time over a track labeled fast was 1:21.53.
“The difference between today and last time was, going the three-quarters, you’ve got to use him a little more than you’d like to. Seven-eighths suits him a little bit better. He’s a big colt, just let him get into his stride and let him do his thing,” Gaffalione said.
A homebred racing for Ron Winchell and trained by Steve Asmussen, Gunite returned $4.60.
“Gunite is just a very special horse to race at the level he has for as long as he has and do it consistently,” Asmussen said. “It was a very tough defeat for him in the Vanderbilt and for him to not blink an eye, come back and lay it down again today just proves what a special horse he actually is.”
Elite Power, who entered the Forego on an eight-race win streak, including an early-season win over Gunite in the Riyadh Dirt Sprint (G3), gave six pounds to the winner. He finished four lengths ahead of High Oak, who was followed by Pipeline and Synthesis.
The Forego was the third stakes win at Saratoga and eighth stakes win overall for Gunite, whose previous top-level score occurred in the 2021 Hopeful (G1). Gunite also landed last year’s Amsterdam (G2) at the Spa, and has five other listed wins to his credit. He’s now won nine of 19 starts, and has surpassed more than $2 million in earnings.
“He likes racing. He’s never been a flashy trainer. I believe he’ll need another race (before the Breeders’ Cup Sprint [G1]),” Asmussen said. Trainer Bill Mott, meanwhile, said Elite Power is likely to train up toward his Breeders’ Cup title defense at Santa Anita.
A four-year-old Kentucky-bred, Gunite is by Gun Runner and out of the stakes-winning Simple Surprise, by Cowboy Cal.